Thursday, October 11, 2007

Kneeling Before Statues

Sue Bee, sometime commenter here, blogged at I really Don't Have Time to Blog that she didn't find pictures of historical monuments a very good reply to the photo essay that Candy had linked to.

I thought that might be a question that a lot of people have, so I am also posting my reply to her here:

But we don't pray to the statues. It is like a picture, to remind you of a loved one. Like a historical statue, to stand and contemplate who it represents.

I can understand how the pictures would make someone uncomfortable, because you have no idea what the person is thinking. When I kneel before a statue, it is not because I am worshiping the statue, it is because I am about to pray to God at a location that happens to be in front of a statue.

Perhaps you might kneel in prayer, with an illustrated Bible, and open to a page with a picture of the Holy Land to better contemplate Jesus. Are you worshiping the picture because you are kneeling?

It is merely an aid to prayer. The prayer is not directed to the object.

In the comments under the historical monument thread, several people mentioned that people do, in fact, kneel before some historical monuments such as the Vietnam War Memorial. Other people kneel before tombstones in cemeteries to pray.

The Bible does prohibit kneeling before graven images. This is in reference to idols, where you believe that the god exists within the image. A statue in a Catholic Church is just a statue. There is no spirit or deity that exists within it. It is no different from the pictures I have often seen in the back of various non-Catholic churches which shows Jesus knocking on a door.


Anonymous said...

It is merely an aid to prayer. The prayer is not directed to the object.
I agree totally, as a former Anglican (Church of England) I definately don't recall ever praying to a statue and expecting it to listen! It was an aid, a reminder. I keep photos of my loved ones as a reminder but I do not confuss them with the real thing!

Anonymous said...

I think some people want to take things either too literally, or read between the lines for something that is not there. The bible does not ask you to stop using your brain. For most people, it is the INTENT behind the image and the INTENT of the person kneeling or praying or gazing in awe, not the image itself or the prayers/awe themselves.

God does not want us to worship a false god. That is it, end of story. There is no more to it. It (the commandment) doesn't go on to say we can't kneel before an image of something else because it might be considered praying to someone or something else. It does not mean t hat we cannot look at an image and feel emotion.

Using one's brain generally prevents confusion. I know my intentions and I know the differences when I bow my head in awe and when I bow my head in prayer. Most other people do as well.